Digital imaging is its own original printmaking medium: the original comes out of the printer, not the monitor or whatever intention the project started with. The process enables a confluence of visual sources and personal influences in the service of making something new and unique, as opposed to the republication of existing work. Digital artistry mirrors that process of construction and deconstruction through which the past becomes the new, and through which we literally make our mark. But, for me, it’s just another pencil, taking its rightful place in the continuum of human mark-making. Self-taught in Photoshop, perhaps my lack of technical expertise frees me from the slick and glib. A traditional (sort of) printmaker with early twenty-first century tools, my layers dissolve, transform and republish themselves into a recombinant vision.
I wrote years ago that For a long time I have not been comfortable “taking” a picture (those seen images of the world around me I can simply remember), preferring to “make” a picture instead…Our lives are collages of textures and impressions, input from here and from there, pastiches of pleasures recalled and pain endured. My current work too is not-so seamlessly cut and pasted, revised and revisited, and drawn upon from all my experience. Our daily lives may seem routine, so how nice it is to find that in our artspace we can paint caves again, or simply howl at the moon. I’ll leave the real world to those other photographers to place their well-worn rectangles upon, for the visions I assemble become truly my own.
Solitude is important. When I work I sit down without intention, without thought as to the final form. “Process not product”, Nathan Lyons would say at the Visual Studies Workshop. I let the process surprise and inform me and guide me towards a cohesive whole, one which I will only know when I get there. I let one series evolve into the next, staying thematically connected but always trying to improve, experiment and keep moving…lately I appear to be working with the daily tension we all feel and experience as the digital evolves into the virtual, with the organic in us straining to keep up and accommodate the quantum pace of change. We are becoming, or have become, married into the symbiosis of our pixelated lives.
I may start with an idea, a vision or concept (which I almost never adhere to), but mostly just a mark, and then another…my whole internal visual history stays on alert, enabling connections and inter-connections not even conscious. I turn the few Photoshop tools I know on their heads, making them my iterative friends, embracing the accident (yes Rauschenberg). For me photography has always been a mark-making medium and of late I have been weaving its spell back into my images, merging, painting and drawing in the aggregate. I want to pour myself into the work then send it out into the world, where the viewer’s lifelong experience massages and completes it if she chooses (yes Duchamp), providing enough complexity for variant interpretations and multiple inspections, and all the while distilling the stated information down to just what needs to remain.
I’ve been called a digital action painter, as I whirl from step to step in an image, marrying the organic and the digital, much as we all must in today’s world. Handwork is very important, there’s barely a pixel of every image I haven’t labored over, then self-printing allows for unique control over color and an evolutionary proofing/building process. It’s not technology or technique, it’s just drawing and painting in the only way I know how: drawing is the hardwire connection to the network of the soul. But in the end, it’s still about ink on paper, my lifelong fascination.
Sometimes I’m amazed but more often frustrated by the struggle to birth the new while honoring the past, but why make an image that has been seen before? Each finished image is just the jumping-off point for the next, in the hope that the concretization of the ineffable becomes clearer and deeper as I persist.